The United States has experienced historic growth of its elder population over the past few decades. As the population of seniors has increased dramatically, issues faced by them and by the people who care for them have taken center stage in the American conscience – and in the media. One of the most prominent, and troubling, of those issues is the prevalence of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. While the individual states struggle to find ways to combat the elder abuse problem, the sheer number of potential victims makes doing so difficult. Whether you are a senior yourself, or the loved one of a senior, living in Massachusetts, you will undoubtedly be delighted to learn that Massachusetts took first place in a recent study that looked at how well the states are protecting their elderly from abuse.
The Elder Abuse Problem in the U.S.
Elder abuse is hardly a new phenomenon in the United States. As the population of older Americans grows to historic proportions, however, complaints of elder abuse have also reached record numbers. Experts tell us that the elderly population will continue to increase in the years to come, due in large part to the fact that the Baby Boomer generation is just now starting to reach retirement age. By 2050, estimates indicate that the number of older Americans will outnumber their younger counterparts (age 21 and younger) for the first time in recorded history. Even before that though, experts predict that one in five Americans will be retirement age by the year 2030.
Sadly, the growth in the older population also means more potential victims of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Although accurate figures are difficult to come by for several reasons, experts conservatively estimate that more than one in 10 seniors will be the victim of elder abuse during their lifetime and that for every instance of elder abuse reported, as many as 14 go unreported. Each year, over five million instances of financial exploitation with a senior victim occur in the United States. The problem is clear. The solution is not as clear; however, everyone agrees that America’s elderly are at risk and that steps need to be taken at the local, state, and national level to protect them.
What the Wallet Hub Study Tells Us
WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on 14 key indicators of elder-abuse protection in three overall categories – prevalence, resources, and protection. They then evaluated these dimensions using 14 relevant metrics. Each metric was scored on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the “best protection against elder abuse.” The results were compiled into an overall ranking for elder abuse protection. Individual sub-category ranking were also provided for the top five and bottom five in each sub-category. The 14 metrics used in the study are as follows:
- Prevalence – Total 40 Points
- Share of Elder-Abuse, Gross-Neglect and Exploitation Complaints
- Resources – Total 30 Points
- Total Expenditures on Elder-Abuse Prevention per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Total Expenditures on Legal-Assistance Development per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Total Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Funding per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Protection – Total 30 Points
- Financial Elderly-Abuse Laws
- Eldercare Organizations & Services per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Presence of Elder-Abuse Forensic Centers
- Presence of Elder Abuse Working Groups
- Certified Volunteer Ombudsmen per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Frequency of Assisted-Living Facilities Inspections
- Quality of Nursing Homes
- Presence of Laws Allowing Surveillance Cams in Nursing Homes
- Presence of Elder Justice Task Forces
- Presence of Elder-Abuse Shelters
Massachusetts Ranks #1
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts garnered the first place spot in the WalletHub study with an impressive overall score of 63.68 out of 100, followed by Wisconsin and Nevada with scores of 60.66 and 59.57 respectively. Within the three primary categories, Massachusetts ranked 5th in Resources, 10th in Prevalence and 14th in Protection. The state also took the first place honors in the sub-category entitled “Highest Total Expenditures om Elder Abuse Prevention.” The excellent rankings should provide some comfort to seniors, and those who care about them, living in Massachusetts. The result soft the study do not, however, mean we can refrain from being vigilant with the safety of our seniors.
Contact Massachusetts Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please join us for one of our upcoming FREE seminars. If you have additional questions about elder abuse or other elder law issues, contact the Massachusetts elder law attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices by calling (603) 894-4141 or (978) 969-0331 to schedule an appointment.